How to Potty Train

How to potty trainStep by Step Guide on How to Potty Train

 The following tips will help you develop a potty training plan that will work for you and your child

 1) Determine the signals that your child needs to go

 Observe your child’s behavior when he “has to go”. There are usually different signals for a pee and a poop. For a pee, many kids start squirming, crossing their legs or pacing. For a poop, many kids stop what they are doing, squat down and start concentrating. Your child’s signals may be different. Determine what they are and how to recognize them.

 2) Determine when your child needs to go

 The very first step is to figure out when your child tends to go to the toilet. Children, like adults, tend to go at the same time each day. It could be in the morning after her bottle, after breakfast, in the evening. Take note when it is. Chances are you already know this after changing your child’s diaper. If you are not yet sure you might want to keep track of your child’s elimination habits in order to find a pattern. You can print a free potty tracking chart to help you keep track and determine your child’s potty pattern.

Keep track of your kid’s potty habits for up to a week and then look for a potty pattern.

 3) Determine if your child is ready to begin potty training

 We have developed a free online test to help you determine if your child is ready. Take the test to get an idea if you are ready to start.

 4) Find the best time to start

 Once you have determined that your child is ready make sure that the timing is right. If your child is about to experience a major change (such as moving or the arrival of a sibling) it is probably not a good time to start. If you are going on holiday or have a big family event coming up then it is probably better to postpone the potty process too.

 Choose a weekend that you will be home to start the program. In the beginning it makes it a lot easier to be in one place every time he needs to go. Stopping the car for a potty stop is something you will eventually have to do but save it for later in the process if possible. In the beginning there will be many false alarms and it will be easier to deal with those at home than on a highway. Try and find a week during which you can give your child your undivided attention. You will need to be there as much as possible to detect signals that she needs to go, clean up accidents and sit through false alarms. It takes time.

 Most people prefer to start potty training in the summer. If your child has any accidents (which are usually inevitable) then she will be more comfortable until you notice this and change her clothes. Some parents also enable their children to walk around naked or in training pants in the first few days until they get into things. It’s a lot to take in at first – recognize their own signals, get to the potty on time and then get their training pants off. When they don’t have any training pants it enables them to get to the potty a few minutes later without wetting their pants. Some parents don’t feel comfortable with this or are opposed to this system. Do whatever works for you and your child.

 5) Decide if you want to use a potty or the toilet

 There are pros and cons to each. Some people prefer to use a potty and others prefer the toilet with a toilet insert and step stool.

 6) Get your child motivated and excited to start the process

 Make your child feel like she is in control and get her to want to start potty training.

  • Ask her where she wants you to put the potty.
  • Ask her what prize she wants when she is successfully potty trained.
  • Take her with you to buy a potty.
  • Sit together and choose a potty training chart.
  • Read her a book or watch a DVD about potty training.

 7) Get all of the equipment that you need to start

 The only thing that you really need is a potty or toilet insert and lots and lots of patience. There are other things that will make your life a lot easier though. We suggest that you involve your child in the purchases that you make or when printing a potty chart from this site or others. Choose them together with your child so that she feels involved in the process and wants to be a part of it. If she isn’t interested then you are not going to be able to do this on your own.

 We have a recommended list of items to help you.

 8) Decide on your potty training plan

 You can either just go with your instincts, follow one of the potty plans such as this one or just implement part of any potty plan. Whatever you think will work for you and your child.

 One of the most important things to remember is to be consistent. Even if you think your plan isn’t working it is very important to stick to it for a considerable period. If you are sure that your plan is not right for you or your child then try another one but make sure that you are not doing so too soon.

 We recommend taking your child to the potty every hour and whenever you detect the signals that you noted in previous stages of this potty plan. Don’t forget to go first thing in the morning (from the second day since you will want to start the first day with a little less pressure) and before going to bed.

Sit on the potty for a few minutes in the hope that something will come out. The chances are either nothing will happen or it won’t happen in the potty. Praise your child for trying no matter what.

 In the beginning it is important to praise your child whenever she tries and later on whenever she is successful. Each time she successfully uses the potty she is taking a small step toward mastering this significant milestone. Make a big deal about it no matter how silly it might seem to you. Use a potty training chart and stick a sticker on her chart each time she uses the potty. This will also remind you to praise and compliment her!

 9) Explain the program to your child and be there for him/her

 Describe to him exactly what is going to happen and ask him to tell you each time he needs to go. Initially, you will probably be the one to initiate most visits to the potty until he learns to recognize the need to go.

If your child has potty trained siblings let him into the bathroom when they go. Explain to him what they are doing. If he does not have any siblings then let him into the bathroom when you go. It is important that he knows that he is not the only one doing this “strange” act. To us this seems very normal but put yourself in the shoes of a child who has never seen this before. Let him watch a few times before he himself starts. You can even start this stage a week or two before you start the plan but if you are anxious to start then there is no need to wait.

Once he has seen others doing it, show him how to sit on the potty and offer lots of praise for doing so. Stay with him when he in the bathroom no matter how long it takes (now you know why “patience” was listed first in the list of items required for potty training). Even if your child only sits on the potty without doing anything, offer praise for trying and reassure him that he can try again later.

When he is successful congratulate him profusely. Stick a sticker on his potty training chart right away.

 Explain to your child that he needs to wash his hands after using the potty or toilet. This might seem obvious to us but it isn’t obvious to kids. Remind him each time he gets off the potty until it comes naturally to him.

 Keep praising him throughout the process even when he has accidents. There is always something to praise him for such as taking his pants off, going to the potty or even for trying. Using a potty training chart helps remind you to give positive reinforcement. Many of our potty charts include the different stages in potty training enabling you to reward them for completing some of the steps even if they had an accident. This will encourage and motivate them.

We recommend using a diaper or disposable training pants at night until your child wakes up dry for at least two weeks straight. Potty training in the day is a lot easier than potty training at night. When he wakes up, take him to the potty right away even if his diaper is wet. Once your child has mastered potty training in the day then you can start working on the night but that will only be in a few weeks or months. Some kids stay dry at night too from the beginning but this does not usually happen.

 10) Track your child’s feelings and help her overcome fears

 Look at your child and try to understand what she is feeling. You know her better than anyone else does. Is she excited, scared or nervous? Many kids are frightened to sit on a toilet seat as they don’t feel that it is stable. Either help her overcome this fear or find another solution such as a potty. Does she need to put her potty somewhere else to feel safe and secure? Some kids are even unsure about flushing their faeces away. They feel that it is a part of them and should not be flushed away. Explain to them in terms that a toddler will understand that they have nothing to be worried about. If she is nervous and unsure of herself give her lots of positive reinforcement for the smallest accomplishments such as just sitting on the potty, taking off her pants, etc. Each child is unique and some will experience fears and anxiety that you might not even be aware of.

 11) Be prepared for accidents particularly at night

 Pack a change of underwear and clothing whenever your child leaves home initially. Be patient and never get upset with your child for having an accident. Explain to him that accidents happen but next time you are sure that he will make it to the potty on time. He might need a little more reassurance. Keep the praise coming and remind him how many times he has successfully used the potty.

 Don’t forget to remind your child to go to the potty. Sometimes they are so engrossed in a game that they don’t remember to go to the potty until it is too late. Remind them to go if it has been a while since the last time. Suggest a potty visit first thing in the morning, before getting into bed and before you leave home or get into the car. Keep looking out for signs that he needs to go and remind him particularly when you can clearly see he has to go. Kids often have “more important” things to do at the time such as their favorite TV program.

 Even once your child is totally potty trained in the day it can take a good few months until she can stay dry all night. At night, make sure that you use a mattress cover and disposable training pants. Many parents still use a diaper at night and move on to disposable training pants or underwear when the diaper is dry in the morning for at least two weeks.

 Accidents are inevitable. On the other hand, if your child is having accidents all the time and you are sure that he is physically ready to be potty trained or he was potty trained and has substantially regressed then you might want to consult with his doctor to rule out any underlying physical conditions such as a urinary tract infection.

 Once your child is ready and willing to start then it is time to get on board!

 Good luck! We wish you a speedy successful potty training process!